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Naomi Dunavan, Forum News Service, Published January 20 2014

Bridesmaid’s baby arrives same day as sister’s wedding in Grand Forks

GRAND FORKS - The day was to be all about Lucy Dunham and Russel Crary. And it was, for the most part.

Turns out the bride and groom were delighted to share it with an unexpected gift for the whole family that arrived before dawn.

After a five-year courtship that began with “love at first sight,” Russel said, the two would speak their wedding vows before God, their parents, Jean and Tom Dunham and Sandy and Tim Crary, and a sanctuary full of witnesses at 5 p.m. Jan. 4, in Cottonwood Community Church in Grand Forks.

Rehearsal the night before went well. Lucy’s five attendants, which included her sister, Grace Holm, had their black dresses with gold sequins pressed and ready to don. Grace’s dress was different from the rest, however. Hers was maternity style.

The original due date for Grace and Scott Holm’s first child was Jan. 22, but because the baby was breech and hadn’t turned, a Caesarian section was scheduled for Jan. 15 — a week and a half down the road from the wedding.

The day her sister was to walk down the aisle, Grace woke at 2 a.m. Something was amiss. Her water broke and she soon told Scott they should perhaps head for the hospital, which they didn’t do until 3 a.m.

“I had to put makeup on,” Grace said. She knew that whatever the day would bring, “there would be pictures.”

Scott called the labor/delivery department at Altru, and who should answer but nurse Erin Wever, their good friend who had been at rehearsal the night before.

This was still in the middle of the night.

Early delivery

“Hi Erin, this is Scott,” he said.

“No,” Erin exclaimed.

“Grace’s water broke,” Scott replied, to which Erin responded, “No. No. No.”

The soon-to-be parents drove to the hospital. Grace was prepped for surgery and daughter McCabe Kathryn was born at 6:59 a.m., healthy and weighing 7 pounds, 5 ounces and measuring 20 inches long.

At 7:30 a.m., Grace called her mom’s cell phone, which her dad answered.

“Hey Dad,” Grace said, “When do you want to meet your new granddaughter?”

Lucy was having her first cup of coffee for the day. “Dad came downstairs screaming, ‘McCabe, McCabe,’ and no one knew what that was,” she said.

“We had talked about this happening,” Jean Dunham said, “because Anne (their third daughter, married to Aaron Madsen) was four weeks early with Thomas.”

The Dunham parents and their seven children are a “super-close family,” Anne said. “I was the matron of honor and my other two sisters, one sister-in-law (and a cousin) were all in the wedding. Since Grace was supposed to be in the wedding, the wedding party went up to Altru Hospital at 2 o’clock and took pictures with Grace and our newest niece to capture the sweet moment.”

Let the wedding begin

Everyone arrived at the church on time and the ceremony proceeded beautifully. “We just went with one less bridesmaid,” Lucy Dunham said. “Brent Haase (a groomsman) walked down the aisle alone.”

Another friend, Ben Hayden, sat in the sanctuary’s front row and, via iPad, FaceTimed the ceremony to Scott and Grace at the hospital.

It was a mountaintop day for Tom Dunham. He was blessed with his and Jean’s fifth grandchild, a new son-in-law, plus he performed the marriage of his fourth and youngest daughter.

An optometrist at North Dakota Eye Clinic, Tom also is one of the pastors at Cottonwood Community Church. He began the service with these words: “It’s a wonderful thing when a man and woman fall in love — wonderful and magical. Even better is when they first love God.”

Tom told the wedding guests that five years ago Russel came to their home to pick up Lucy for prom. “He looked me in the eye, introduced himself, shook my hand and said, ‘Tom, when would you like your daughter home tonight?’”

Tom added, “I knew right then that I could trust Lucy with Russel.”

Shared stories

For the ceremony, Lucy and Russel penned stories for Tom to share with the guests. Russel told of growing up in a family with five kids. “My parents and family have been a huge blessing to me and I loved being part of a big family,” he wrote. “My parents raised us to follow Christ and I’m thankful for that.”

Lucy had written that her favorite part of childhood was being home-schooled and being with her brothers and sisters all day long.

“Being the youngest girl, I never thought about the fact that it would be me getting married someday. But I also wasn’t worried because I have a dad who is involved in every aspect of my life and I knew he would never let me marry someone who wasn’t perfect for me, nor would I ever marry someone my dad didn’t approve of.”

Lucy and Russel have returned from their honeymoon in Florida. He is majoring in accounting and business at UND and she has only a semester to go to complete her registered nursing degree.

Last week, now two-week-old McCabe Kathryn slept peacefully in the arms of the new bride with the groom, the infant’s parents, Grandma Jean and Aunt Anne, seated around the table, each savoring the moment.

“I honestly felt so bad,” Grace told Lucy. “God gave me a really good surprise. He knew I wanted a surprise.”

Lucy snuggled McCabe even closer. “I was excited,” she answered. “It made our wedding so much more special. She’s my favorite niece now.”